The Oregon Trail: Hunt For Food from Pressman, part of Goliath Games, deepens the nostalgia experience brought to the tabletop from the original Oregon Trail card game. Rather than being just an expansion, Hunt For Food serves as a game in its own right, reawakening the mini-game that served as an integral part of the old, beeping, mostly text video game many of us remember. Hunt For Food may be played as a standalone game, or it may be integrated into The Oregon Trail card game.
The goal of the first Oregon Trail game was to arrive at Willamette Valley, and a few players might very well make it alive. Hunt For Food sets forth a more immediate goal: players need to collect 600 pounds of meat before everyone dies. Only one player has to survive along with the 600 pounds, and that may often be the case as the frontier is a dangerous place.
Hunt For Food uses a grid mechanic with cards laid out face down in a six-by-six rectangle. A Hunter token represents the hunting party, and players take turns flipping cards to discover what is on them, moving, and shooting at game. A die determines how many actions a player gets each turn and, perhaps more importantly, how far away a player may flip over a card or shoot, adding a strong element of luck.
As players uncover the field of play, they discover plenty of animals for eating, from big ones like bear and bison down to tiny squirrels. All players must agree to spend one of twelve bullet tokens to shoot and then have to roll specific numbers to hit them, making actually snagging one is statistically scary. Each new roll requires a bullet token, so players will need to save their shots for game they feel they can nab.
Cards may also reveal negatives like Obstacles that block players’ paths and shots or Calamities like drowning and snake bites that may kill a player or two. A second deck of Supply cards, pulled from abandoned wagon cards on the field, can overcome Calamities and keep players going for a little while longer. Play continues until the hunting party successfully collects the meat, runs out of bullets, becomes trapped by Obstacle cards, or has all of its members die grisly frontier deaths.
As much fun as competing against the difficulties of the standalone game are, Hunt For Food is even better attached to the original Oregon Trail card game. As players traverse the wilderness, they may choose to go hunting, beginning and quitting as they choose. This can be a great way to rack up bonus Supply cards and improve chances to find the end of the trail. Of course, there is always the risk that the hunting trip may hold the end of any or all players.
The Oregon Trail: Hunt For Food is a cooperative card game for two to six players aged twelve and up. It is a medium-length game, lasting about twenty to thirty minutes depending on how quickly players make their moves or meet untimely ends. The nostalgia value is high, but even players new to the Oregon Trail universe will enjoy the risks players must brave to meet their goals.